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    CHOSEN BY GOD(Question 20)


    Think of all the great things we have learned about God so far in the Catechism. How He bought us back from slavery and adopted us into His family. How when we were dead in sin Jesus came to die for us and to take the punishment we deserved. And of course that we will be able to spend "many days" with God in heaven forever. Can it get any better? Well, let me ask you this question-since it is so great to be a Christian, why isn't everyone a Christian? Why aren't churches overcrowded and people begging to hear about Jesus? The answer is found in Question 20 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

    20. Does everyone become saved in the same way they became sinner?
    No. Only those who by true faith are joined to Him and receive His gifts.

    This study today is one of the hardest lessons we will ever learn in the Catechism. For in this lesson we learn that the reason some people don't want to become Christians is because they are not able to. Let me put it this way-in order to become a Christian you must trust in Christ. But some people can'tbelieve or trust in Jesus. It is not possible for them to do so. In order to understand this better we have to take it step by step. So let's start at the beginning-no, not in the Garden of Eden, but before the foundation of the world.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love...

    (Ephesians 1:3-4,NKJV)

    Before God created the world, before He created Adam and Eve, before He did any of this-He had already decided whom He was going to choose for salvation. Did you get that? God decided millions of years ago whether or not you would be saved. He wrote your name in the Book of Life and decided that He would adopt you at a later time.

    Jump ahead in time. Past the creation of the world. Past the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Keep going further on in time until you see a Man hanging on a cross. It's Jesus. But why is the Son of God on the cross? Because of you! Before God could adopt you, He had to deal with your sin problem. And the only way He could do that is to have Jesus pay the price for your sins.

    Jump ahead in time once more. God then determined when you would be born and who your parents would be. He watched over you as you grew up making sure nothing bad happened to you. It was His plan to keep you alive and well for a special reason. Do you know what that reason was? You had to hear the Gospel. Yes, that's right. All of those times you should have been hit by a car or been hurt by a bad person-during all these times God kept you safe so you would be able to come to Pomona Youth Chapel and hear about Jesus. Pretty incredible, huh?

    Now, once you came to church, you listened to the facts about sin and salvation. You learned about Law and Gospel. You were given the good news that Jesus died for you and by His death you are freed from your slavery to sin. But do you know what really happened when you believed? You were raised from the dead! Not physically, but spiritually. Look at this verse...

    And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air...But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together iwth Christ(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus..

    (Ephesians 2:1-2a; 4-6, NKJV)

    So by hearing the Gospel gave you the ability to trust in Jesus. And by trusting in Jesus you received heavenly blessings-forgiveness of sins, resurrection from your trespasses, and eternal life with Jesus forever. How much cooler could this be? But wait a minute...what about all those other people in church who also heard the Gospel but went away without believing, how come they aren't saved? To understand this, we start again at the beginning....


    Those people who hear the Gospel but do not trust in Jesus have never had their names written in the Book of Life. They do not believe because they were not chosen by God for salvation. Now, the first thing you are probably thinking is "That's not fair". Well, let's look at a verse to see it from God's point of view...

    But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the Potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?"

    (Romans 9:20-21, NKJV)

    In other words, God is in charge and we aren't. He is the one who decides whether or not we are chosen. We can't complain because He doesn't need our permission. He didn't even have to create us if He didn't want to. He could kill us at this second and who could stop Him? Let's move on to our next time stop. There's Jesus dying on the cross. Why is He there? Isn't it to pay the price for sinners who have rebelled against God? Isn't it to be the sacrificial Lamb and allow His blood to be shed to buy us back from slavery? That is all true. But again, contrary to popular belief, Jesus didn't die for everyone. Only those He chose.

    Now this is probably something you haven't heard before. Preachers on T.V. are always saying that Jesus died for everyone. But what does Jesus have to say about this? Look up these two verses yourself and you might be suprised by what you learn:

    Matthew 20:28
    John 17:6;9

    Jesus said that He was coming to die for many, not for all. He did not pray for the whole world, but only for those whom the Father had given Him-those who were chosen before the foundation of the world. The others, the ones who were not chosen, Jesus did not die for.

    Finally we end up back in Pomona Youth Chapel. We learned how the Gospel is preached and those who are chosen respond to it and trust in Jesus. But those who do not respond prove that they are not chosen. They are unable to believe in the Gospel. Look again at two verses and see what they teach...

    John 8:43-45
    John 10:25-30

    Those people in church who did not respond to the Gospel were unable to hear Jesus' words. To them it was nothing special. They went back into their sin and thought nothing of what they had heard. This proved that they were not Jesus' sheep, they were not the chosen. Only those who are given true faith by God will hear the words of Jesus and be convicted of their sin. Only those who are given true faith by God will trust in Jesus for their salvation. All others will continue trusting in themselves and feel no shame for the evil they have done.


    The question you might be asking right now is, "Am I chosen?" There's a simple way to find out. First of all, are you ashamed of your sins before God? Secondly, are you willing to repent of your sins and live instead as a slave of God? Finally, do you trust in what Jesus did for you and give up all hope in earning your own way to heaven? If you answered yes to these three questions, you have been given true faith or the ability to believe. Now don't get cocky thinking you are better than those who cannot believe. You would be just like them if God wouldn't had shown mercy on you and raised you from the dead. God didn't choose you because you were good or had something special that the others didn't. So instead of thinking yourself to be better or more worthy, you should be thanking God with all your heart that He saved you when you didn't deserve it. Show Him your gratitude by continuing to learn more about Him and by doing your best to keep the Commandments.

    In the next few lessons we will learn more about true faith and how to be sure you are really saved.


    QUESTIONS

    1. When were you chosen for salvation?
    2. Did Jesus die for everybody? If not, who did He die for?
    3. What tool did God use to raise you from the dead?


    1998 Pomona Youth Chapel/Pastor Tim Shultz